You Are Sunshine

Living Arts returns after significant loss to NHBP Community and a global pandemic

FireKeepers Casino Hotel hosted the recently un-paused Living Arts event to the bittersweet delight of the NHBP Community. The event began with a Welcome Song and kind, loving words honoring the late founding mother of the event, Christine Lanning-Bën, who walked on in March of 2018.

Lanning’s daughter, Sara Moore, took to the stage to share some words in honor of her mother.

“She loved sharing our culture with everyone and she did so with a fierce passion. She had a happy spirit and she always had a smile on her face. And if you knew her, you knew she had one of the best laughs. She was open, loving and one of the most caring people,” Moore said. “She loved this event because it brought people together from all walks of life to experience our culture in a really good, positive way. So today, as you go through the various sessions and learn about our culture, I hope you do so with her spirit in mind: one of happiness, openness and love.”

And throughout the day, participants did just that. NHBP Tribal Members and employees were educated on historical trauma, the Potawatomi word game ShiShiBé, Pow Wow, crafting and storytelling. As participants moved through sessions and visited vendors selling their crafts and wares, ballroom wing of FKCH was filled with excited chatter, reunions and first in-person meetings.

“I think we have gotten through COVID-19, and now we can see everyone’s face,” said NHBP Tribal Member and Tribal Council Secretary Nancy Smit. “That’s been one of the highlights of everything, just looking at people and seeing them, old friends.”

One of the event’s orchestrators and first-time attendee, NHBP Tribal Member and FKCH Tribal Training and Development Manager Kiara Dougherty relayed her excitement about the event, saying, “It’s been awesome to be able to bring our culture here, and introduce it to our team members and to also have our Tribal Members and Tribal Elders here as part of our event just to celebrate our culture. For everybody to learn and participate and just get a little more exposed.

“I hope that, especially from the Historical Trauma session, that participants have a better understanding of where we started and how far we’ve come. I hope they have a sense of pride for FireKeepers and NHBP in general. That’s the main takeaway.”

During lunch, participants were treated to a performance by innovative Native hip-hop artist, comedian and Fancy Dancer Supaman. A member of the Apsáalooke Nation, Supaman told jokes, rapped and Danced before he invited volunteers onto the stage to create a unique piece of music, featuring Smit’s wonderful and apt affirmation, “You are sunshine.”

During NHBP Culture Department Manager Fred Jacko’s presentation on historical trauma, he spoke about the impacts of various legislation throughout the centuries aimed at Native communities, focusing on laws that made it illegal for Native Americans to participate in cultural practices and their long-lasting impacts.

“Be Indian. Go to Pow Wows. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter; just go. Go to ceremony. If you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re Indian, come talk to me, that’s my job. I’ll get you there. These are huge things for how we heal,” Jacko said.

“We don’t have to be ashamed of our culture. It’s who we are. It’s who we’re meant to be. And it’s a good thing. It’s amazing to be Indigenous. I’m thankful every day for that, regardless of what’s occurred in our past; I wouldn’t want to be anything else.”

For more information on how to be better connected to NBHP Culture, please reach out to the Culture Department Manager Fred Jacko at or 269.704.8307.


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